Posted by on Apr 8, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Will this Make a Difference?

In reading the crucifixion descriptions in Matthew, Luke and John, I was struck by a fairly small group of examples of conversion and/or people changing their minds and acting differently while they were observing the events of Jesus trial, mistreatment and crucifixion. Let’s look at a couple of these events.

One of the people would be the person of Judas. Now, Judas had been with Jesus as a disciple and the one who kept the “purse” to pay bills. He was skeptical of this man and decided he could help out the scribes and elders of the Jewish faith by accepting money to betray to Jesus to capture him and begin the trial. However, once he had observed the cruel manner in which Jesus was treated and the false type of trial Jesus was put to, he changed his mind and returned the money. He was so riddled with his guilt he hanged himself. (Matt. 26:23-25, Matt 27:2)

Then…we have Peter, another of the disciples. Peter had asked Jesus to wash his whole body when Jesus was washing the disciple’s feet…as a way of telling them they were to serve others. Jesus indicated that in the coming days, Peter would have a difficult time, as he would deny Jesus three times. I’m sure Peter didn’t believe him, but this was the one disciple that did not disappear once Jesus was arrested. Peter followed along in the crowds to watch the events take place and denied three times he was a follower when people questioned him about this. He heard the cock crow and “went out and wept bitterly”. He knew what he had done. (Matt 26:31, Matt:26:69-76). We do know that Peter became a leader, confessed his wrongs and was one of the first to go to the tomb to see what Mary had told them about the empty tomb.

There is another example of “conversion” on the cross. Remember the story of the two criminals who were crucified next to Jesus? The gospel of Matthew in chapter 27:38-44, that the two men were testing and taunting Jesus along with the centurions, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” However, in the gospel of Luke 23:39, it is recorded that the one criminal taunted Jesus, along with the soldiers, but the other one rebuked that person and asked Jesus to “remember him”. He realized his mistakes and was assured by Jesus he would be in paradise.

One thing we really do not know but wonder about is when Jesus died and there was an earthquake and darkness fell on the land (Matt. 51-54) and the curtain of the temple was torn. Did they realize what that signified? One of the centurions did…when he stated, “Truly this man was God’s son.” In Luke 23:48, the writer states that upon seeing this, “the crowd returned home, beating their breasts”. Normally, this meant repentance.

Now, you say, “What does this mean for me?” We read these sections of the gospels many time and have heard them. What DOES Jesus crucifixion mean for us? What difference will it make for us now? What will you do now? Will you share these stories with others who need to hear the promise Jesus gives? Will the world (and our friends) see hope when they see God’s people? Will the world see that the church is not just a building…it is all of us. Will we and others find Faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection? Will we and others find Joy when we are dejected and wondering when our current issues will end?

Let us show ourselves and our world that this is the year of survival…reliance on the healing, loving power of our Lord. Let us remember that even though our churches are empty at this celebratory time of our Christian year, the tomb is empty and Jesus is the victor.

Let us commit ourselves to make a difference.

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